Triathletes exhibited greater pain tolerance than controls

Triathletes had greater pain tolerance and more efficient pain modulation compared with non-athletes, according to recent study results.

Researchers measured pain threshold, pain tolerance, suprathreshold perceived pain intensity, temporal summation of pain and conditioned pain modulation in 19 triathletes and 17 non-athletes. Participants also completed a fear of pain questionnaire and were asked to rate past painful experiences.

Overall, researchers found triathletes had higher pain tolerance, lower pain ratings and lower fear of pain values vs. controls. Triathletes also exhibited significantly greater conditioned pain modulation, which negatively correlated with fear of pain and with perceived mental stress during training and competition, according to study results.

“In our study, triathletes rated pain lower in intensity, tolerated it longer and inhibited it better than individuals in a control group,” Ruth Defrin, professor at Tel Aviv University, stated. “We think both physiological and psychological factors underlie these differences and help explain how triathletes are able to perform at such a high level.”

For more information:

Geva N. Pain. 2013;doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2013.06.031.

Disclosure: Defrin reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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